Therapy Week 2
Apparently I’m crazier than I thought I was. Yesterday, at therapy I learned that my view of normal is a bit skewed. Granted, this is not surprising, but it is frustrating. I knew that most of the time when I wash my hands, I don’t need to. What I thought were normal hand-washing circumstances are apparently OCD. My therapist informed me that most people wash their hands immediately after going to the bathroom and right before eating. That’s it? That’s it. What about after being outside? Not usually. What about after petting or playing with a pet? Nope. But… but… but…
My cats are indoor cats, so maybe they are clean, but I still am not buying it. They use a litter box. They clean themselves with their tongues, not with soap.
Am I crazy for thinking that touching them warrants washing my hands? (Seriously, I’d like your input in a comment. Tell me what is normal for you because I don’t remember). I also think that after being outside, one should wash his or her hands. She said that’s not the case, though.
Homework Week 2
My homework this week increases the number of things that, after touching, I am supposed to delay washing or avoid washing my hands altogether. The current homework list:
I can use hand sanitizer only after:
- tying shoes
No cleaning allowed whatsoever after:
- touching TV remote and similar household objects
- touching the shower curtain
- removing lint from dryer
Also, the inositol I bought has a recommended dose of 550 mg and I’ve been taking that every morning. My therapist told me that I can work towards taking 12-18 grams per day, so yesterday I started slowly increasing the dosage and am taking half in the morning and half at night. I’m also taking the theanine twice per day, 100 mg each time. It’s hard to tell if they are helping or not because I have had such high stress since starting to take them.
The Problem with Kids
If you’re squeamish, you may want to stop here. I had a rough day at work yesterday involving taking young children to the bathroom.
I started a new job on Monday. I’m an assistant teacher at a preschool. I have been a nanny/babysitter for the past 3-4 years and have enjoyed it, so I did not think this would be all that bad. The kids who go there have to be potty trained, so it didn’t seem scary. Too bad potty trained does not mean that they can do it all by themselves. I had no idea and feel dumb for not knowing that, for not expecting it. Yesterday, one of the three-year-olds needed to go to the bathroom, so the teacher asked me to take her. Apparently, once one kid says they have to go, everyone eventually follows suit. So the teacher kept sending the kids to me in the bathroom. It was horrible! Some of the kids had a hard time getting their pants on and off. Some of them couldn’t get up on the toilet by themselves. Most of them ignored me when I told them to flush once they were done. None of them were any good at wiping.
I’m sorry. I know this is gross, but I’m trying to paint a picture. I will not be sugarcoating anything here. But then you’re probably nowhere near as grossed out as I was, as I still am. Anyway, back to it:
These kids also totally suck at washing their hands. I know they’re kids, but that doesn’t make it less stressful for me. They put soap on one of their hands and then just stick both hands into the water. There is no rubbing involved, no evidence of soap being distributed to all surfaces.
By the time every kid had managed to go, I was a mess. I sent the last one back into the classroom and ran into the teacher’s workroom. The wonderful thing about this room is that there is a sink that is only used by adults. I can’t tell you how many times I washed my hands, because I lost count after awhile. I have never been stuck at a sink before. The most I have ever washed my hands consecutively is maybe three times. Usually, washing my hands once is enough. Yesterday, though, I couldn’t get clean enough. I just kept washing, over and over and over again. The whole time, my mind was screaming STOP WASHING YOUR F**KING HANDS! STOP IT, YOU PATHETIC, STUPID GIRL! It’s easy to get really frustrated with yourself in the middle of this kind of situation. You know that you are technically clean by normal standards, but you still aren’t convinced, you still feel incredibly dirty. You know that you’re being completely irrational, but that doesn’t stop the alarms in your head from screeching. It is infuriating when you can’t stop yourself from doing something.
I sat there washing my hands for the gazillionth time and felt the tears coming. My face heated up and my eyes fought to hold back the tears. I was about to lose the battle against them when another teacher walked into the workroom. The fear of embarrassment was strong enough to make me stop washing, suck it up and go back to my classroom. I’m so grateful she walked in when she did and not a minute later when I would have been bawling my eyes out. I went back to class and managed to finish the day without having to take any more kids to the bathroom (thankfully!). The four-year-olds were so much easier to handle. They were much more self-sufficient when it came to bathroom stuff (and they’re really good at washing their hands!), so I was more comfortable interacting with them.
I still really badly wanted a shower when I got off work. Actually, I wanted about five showers. I went home, changed into jeans and a t-shirt, and sat on my couch, fighting myself. It was so difficult to resist the urge to take a dangerously hot 45 minute shower to get rid of all of the germs. What I’ve learned so far in therapy is that if I can resist a compulsion, that I should at least try to delay as long as possible. Also if possible, I should try to distract myself. I was trying to delay the inevitable shower when I decided that the best way to avoid a shower would be to not have one available. So I got in my car and drove to my best friend’s house and spent a couple of hours over there. By the time I left, my anxiety was gone. When I got home, I showered, not because I felt compelled to, but because it was time for my daily shower. It wasn’t ritualistic or extra long or anything, just a normal shower and that felt like victory.
Part of me really wants to continue this job and see if the exposure would be good for me, see if it helps me gain more control of this. The other part of me thinks that this could be too much, too fast and that I should run and hide. It’s down to basic fight or flight and I have no idea which to do.